It's inevitable that you'll be faced with unexpected shots that catch you off guard. You might be caught out of position and have to stretch for a shot. Or get fooled by the opponent and so react incorrectly, and so have to adjust. Or simply react to a net ball. What should you do?
Beginners and most intermediate players simply get the ball back. But if you want to increase your chances of winning the point, do something with your return.
- Keep the ball deep so opponent can't cream the ball at wide angles. This is the most important.
- Put a little (or a lot) of topspin or backspin on the ball. Why make things easy for him?
- Place the ball to a corner to force the opponent to move. If the player has a big forehand but is a bit slow, perhaps go to the backhand. Or if the player likes to play forehands from the backhand, perhaps go to the forehand to catch him going the wrong way.
- Place the ball to the middle to cut off extreme angles.
- Aim one way, and change directions at the last second to catch opponent off guard. This is the most difficult to develop as a habit, but also the best way to turn the tables on the opponent and completely mess him up.